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NBC
Matt Lauer, shown recently with Dolly Parton, has been a co-host on “Today” since 1997.

Lauer, ‘Today’ agree to contract extension

– Matt Lauer, a fixture on NBC’s “Today” show for two decades and a co-host since 1997, will remain on the show for a few more years as it tries to recover the dominance lost to rival “Good Morning America.”

The network said Friday that Lauer had agreed to a contract extension for multiple years, although it would not specify how long. Lauer’s last extension was announced in 2012. Terms were not disclosed; as the longest-lasting host in the most profitable time of day for broadcast news divisions, Lauer is certainly one of the highest-paid people in TV news.

Lauer’s future was the biggest question hanging over NBC’s news division. Last week, Lauer told NBC’s bosses that he had decided to stay, and an agreement was reached quickly. He told his “Today” colleagues on Thursday that he’d be staying, said an NBC executive who spoke on condition of anonymity because the network doesn’t talk publicly about contracts.

“We couldn’t be more thrilled with Matt’s decision,” said NBC News President Deborah Turness said. “As I’ve said many times before, he’s the best in the business, and there is nobody I would rather have in the ‘Today’ anchor chair than Matt.”

Lauer, 56, said in a statement that “I consider this the best job in broadcasting. I love the people I work with every day and I have such respect and gratitude for the people I work for. I couldn’t be happier to be staying.”

Lauer began as a news anchor on “Today” in 1994 and replaced Bryant Gumbel as co-host three years later.

Lauer has worked with Katie Couric, Meredith Vieira, Ann Curry and now Savannah Guthrie as co-hosts. “Today” spent an unparalleled two decades at the top of the morning ratings before losing ground to ABC’s “Good Morning America,” a drop worsened by the negative fallout from Curry’s removal in 2012.

“Today” has gained ground in the ratings over the past several months, particularly among younger viewers. But ABC still holds a solid lead: During the week of June 2, “Good Morning America” averaged 5.4 million viewers to NBC’s 4.6 million, the Nielsen company said.

The contract extension was first reported in the New York Times.

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